Buckhead’s highway-capping green space plan, long known as the “park over Ga. 400,” may be dubbed “Hub 404” as part of a rebranding as a major fundraising effort begins in September.
The new name, referring to the center of metro Atlanta’s 404 phone area code, is intended to reflect the larger ambition of the park, says Jay Gould, the new board chair at a nonprofit group that aims to raise the estimated $175 million to $200 million needed for the project’s private funding.
Currently known as POG 400, the nonprofit would take on the new name as well if its board makes the change official. Another rebranding type of name is possible, and could be replaced again in the future with a donor’s name.
Gould said in an interview that the board felt that with the “park over Ga. 400” term, “we were too grounded in Buckhead…Grounding it into [Ga.] 400 didn’t seem that environmentally friendly.”
Conceived by the Buckhead Community Improvement District, the park concept is a roughly 9.5 green space and plaza built above Ga. 400 between Peachtree and Lenox roads, and incorporating a redesigned Buckhead MARTA Station. It has been presented as serving as both a Buckhead community park and a regional attraction.
The concept is currently in an early engineering stage, but its backers hope to have construction start by 2021. For the next phase of construction documents, the nonprofit needs to raise $4 million to $5 million, Gould said.
Gould was named the new board chair of the 16-month-old nonprofit in May in a leadership shake-up, taking over from former chair Barbara Kaufman, who runs a consulting firm.
“We kind of pushed the reset button,” said Gould. “…I think the initial board didn’t have the mindset around the funding effort that is necessary to really drive this to success.”
Gould is president and CEO of Interface, Inc., a company that makes modular carpet and is headquartered in Midtown. Gould is a Buckhead resident who lives near the proposed park site. And Interface is a company known for its environmental policies, dating back nearly 50 years to founder Ray Anderson, who set a corporate course of zero net emissions and other green-minded programs. BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett, who also sits on the nonprofit’s board, worked with Anderson on Chattahoochee Hills’ Serenbe green-minded community, Gould said.
“For me, with a company that’s so much into sustainability, I really believed this needed some leadership to propel this forward,” Gould said of accepting the board chair position.
Gould lives in the Sovereign condos in the 3344 Peachtree skyscraper, where “I will look out my window at that park.” He said the park would build a sense of community in a booming residential area once known mostly as a financial and retail center.
“We’re really devoid of green space,” Gould said. “There’s not enough green space in that part to really pull people together… I’m so jealous of people who live around Piedmont Park.”
Besides considering a rebranding, the nonprofit is building its basic fundraising ability, including hiring a director to lead the effort. The kickoff for the major fundraising would then begin in September.
Nonprofit board members also continue to meet with officials from the city and MARTA, and are discussing the acquisition of air rights from some private property owners, Gould said.
Meantime, the overall goal of the park concept remains the same. “I think it continues the transformation of Atlanta into a world-class city,” Gould said.